The government today softened its stand on striking Air India pilots with Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi announcing that the airline management would reinstate the pilots, who were sacked after starting their agitation.
“If the agitating pilots of Air India call off their strike, the airline management will take back the pilot, who were terminated,” said Ravi.
However, the pilots say they have always maintained that all they need to come back to work is reinstatement of pilots and a written assurance on their demands being met. “As of now, we have not received any intimation on this from the management and any decision will only come after that,” said a pilot, who did not want to be identified.
The Delhi High Court today issued contempt notices to nine of the striking Air India pilots for defying its order to call off the agitation which entered the seventh day. The nine pilots are office bearers of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union that has called the strike.
While issuing the contempt notices, the court also decided to take up the matter again on May 25. The members, who were issued the notices are ICPA President A S Bhinder, Vice President Ramesh Gangadharan, General Secretary Rishabh Kapur, Assistant General Secretary Rajesh Kuyeskar, Treasurer Ritesh Mathankar and four executive committee members Nitin Mahangade, Anup, Shakil and Amitesh.
About 800 pilots of the union and around 200 executive pilots who were working with the now-defunct Indian Airlines are on strike since April 26 midnight demanding parity in wages with their counterparts from the erstwhile Air India. Indian Airlines was merged with Air India in 2007. The state-run carrier has suffered estimated revenue losses of over Rs 100 crore during the strike.
According to official estimates, private carriers were carrying 15,000-16,000 passengers of Air India, which is offering only about 9,000 seats each day currently. Normally, the state-run airline offers 35,000 seats in the domestic sector daily.
The bench had also rapped the airline management and the pilots’ association for their rigid stand and appointed a counsel to assist in resolving the standoff.
Replying to this, Air India said the independent committee was set up after the civil aviation minister held talks with all unions/guilds/associations of Air India, including ICPA, and after taking their consent.
“The management explained to the court that the pilots and other employees need to engage with the Justice (retd) Dharmadhikari Committee, as it provided a very vital platform to resolve all human resource-related issues, including pay parity, rank rationalisation and seniority,” said a release from the airline.
As the stalemate continued, the management issued directions for not processing of the salaries of those who were not joining duty as the airline was operating with less capacity.